5-year-old gender non-conforming St. Paul student a catalyst for meetings

A meeting was held Tuesday night at Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul to discuss issues involving transgender and gender non-conforming students.

The meeting at the charter school was called by a small group of parents who felt they'd been ignored by the school board, concerned about how to have conversations about a 5-year-old student who is gender non-conforming.

The student's parents reportedly asked Nova Academy to make sure their child was not being bullied, but some parents were not comfortable with staff members talking to their kids about transgender issues.

Some parents, like Leslie Lynn, feel like they are losing their voice when it comes to transgender or gender non-conforming students.

“Talking about sex and gender for children who are 5, 6 years old is something that many parents, representing hundreds of kids, think is inappropriate,” Lynn said.

She's primarily concerned about a children's book called “Jacob's New Dress,” now available to kindergartners at the school. She’s also concerned about the issue of what to do with bathrooms.

This past year, Nova officials took steps to support a 5-year-old boy who believes he may be a girl, by reiterating the anti-bullying policy applies to all students.

His parents, Hannah and Dave Edwards, say they're encouraged by the direction of the school.

“He has said before, ‘I feel like a girl in my heart, I feel like have both boy and girl,” Dave Edwards said. “We're not yet sure of the person that our son is, he's in kindergarten.”

Nova executive director Eric Williams says they're trying to address these concerns.

“Some of the parents who are opposed to that say this is going to confuse some of their own children, what do you say to that? I would want to meet with them individually and ask them what concerns they have,” Williams said.

A public meeting was held in Nova's gymnasium along with the Minnesota Family Council, a conservative group opposed to transgender accommodations in public schools. School leaders did not allow the group to speak at the last school board meeting. Many people in the LGBTQ community showed up, and when the meeting ended, stood outside and held a silent protest.